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Kenya told to expect more hungry people in towns

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Kenyans in the rural

Kenyans in towns will not be spared by food shortage in the coming months, according to a prediction on Kenya’s food security.

However, most affected will be people in eastern and northern Kenya, who will need relief food and livestock offtake by May.

The outlook says pastoral areas will be most affected because the short rains were below average and there are three dry months ahead.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, supported by Usaid, also predicts a gradual decline in livestock body conditions.

The early warning platform advises farmers to sell some of their livestock through offtake programmes.

Recently, the National Drought and Management Authority also issued an alert over the deterioration in livestock body condition and milk production compared to July and August.

“The forecast below-average 2021 long rains are expected to lead to short-lived pasture and water regeneration, and gradual declines in livestock body conditions and production, limiting household access to food and income,” the FewsNet prediction says.

It also notes urban families will suffer food shortage due to low income and higher-priced commodities impacting household purchasing power.

Kenya Livestock Marketing Council chairman Dubat Amey also recently advised pastoralists in Northeastern to start selling their livestock to avoid losing them during the looming dry season.

Amey urged counties to set aside funds to tackle drought. Already, Wajir has this financial year allocated Sh150 million to tackle drought.

According to the Nairobi-based Igad Climate Prediction and Application Centre, there will be hot weather in most parts of the country between now and March.

ICPAC last week also issued a mixed outlook for March-May rainfall. The World Meteorological Organization was, however, cautious.

“Interested parties should continue to check updates for the latest information,” WMO said in a statement.

WMO said La Niña is currently peaking but it will not necessarily lead to drought in East Africa like it did in 2010.

WMO said La Niña is just one of the many climatic drivers that affect weather.

Nairobi-based non-profit Oxfam also predicted the number of hungry people will rise.

Lydia Zigomo, Oxfam Horn, East and Central Africa regional director, said: “The forecasted dry season will be the last straw for many, devastating their remaining crops and cutting their lifeline of food and income.”

Farmers, who make up almost 80 per cent of the Horn of Africa’s population, have already been hit hard by severe floods and the biggest desert locust invasion in 70 years.

Since January, locusts have damaged crops on 70,000 hectares (172,973.8 acres) in Kenya.

Zigomo added: “Urgent action is needed to provide the assistance desperately needed by millions of hungry people.”

-The Star

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